What is in-office teeth whitening?

Zoom teeth whitening AustinNearly everyone wants a bright, white smile. Many people associate white teeth with youth, health, and attractiveness. Since our teeth are porous, they are prone to staining over time. Even if you practice good oral hygiene, your teeth may stain. Dark foods like berries and beverages like wine and coffee will darken teeth with time. Smoking cigarettes and using chewing tobacco will also cause permanent tooth stains. To help patients reverse the effects of a stained smile, our dentist offers Zoom teeth whitening, a quick and non-invasive procedure that dramatically whitens teeth.

How does Zoom teeth whitening work?

Zoom teeth whitening consists of applying a prescription bleaching solution to the front sides of teeth and using a special laser to deepen and accelerate the whitening process. Before the gel is applied, protective gauze is placed over soft tissues in the mouth and lip balm is applied to the lips. Then a comfortable oral appliance is inserted into the mouth to keep the mouth open. The actual whitening process takes less than an hour.

What kind of results can I expect?

If you receive in-office whitening, your results are instantaneous after treatment. Your teeth will look dramatically whiter, and most patients’ teeth lighten about eight to ten shades brighter. If you avoid dark foods and beverages along with tobacco products, your whitening treatment should last at least a year. We recommend sipping beverages – especially soda – through a straw to minimize the exposure of dark particles to teeth. We also encourage you to practice proper oral hygiene that includes daily flossing. Drinking water throughout the day is a great way to rinse away debris from food and drinks that may stain your teeth.

Who is a candidate for professional teeth whitening?

Most patients can receive teeth whitening at our practice. Since we use protective materials and safe bleaching agents, a whitening treatment will not harm the health of teeth.

To learn more about cosmetic dentistry, call our practice today to schedule an informative consultation.

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How durable are porcelain veneers?

veneers north AustinDo you want to improve your smile with cosmetic dentistry? Do you want to conceal or correct permanent stains and misaligned teeth? If you have multiple cosmetic problem areas, porcelain veneers might be the best option for you to achieve the smile of your dreams.

A cosmetically flawed smile can greatly affect your self-esteem. Many patients with noticeable imperfections are very self-conscious about their appearance and even avoid social situations because they are embarrassed about their teeth. Fortunately, veneers conceal every imaginable imperfection without looking unnatural. Since each veneer is handcrafted from porcelain, these cosmetic enhancements can last for decades with proper care.

Can you eat normal foods with veneers?

Patients with veneers can eat any food with ease. This is because veneers are permanently cemented to the front of teeth. Patients who have veneers will clean their teeth as normal with regular brushing and flossing.

How can porcelain veneers improve my smile?

Razor thin pieces of porcelain are crafted by hand in dental laboratories to very precise specifications. Each veneer is shaped and sized to fit over a specific tooth. This means that once a veneer is bonded to the teeth, it will perfectly enhance a patient’s appearance by concealing a stained, misshapen, or misaligned tooth. Once all veneers are placed, patients will enjoy a straight and uniform smile that is a beautiful shade of white.

Who should receive veneers?

Our dentist offers a few different types of cosmetic procedures including teeth whitening and white restorations. Veneers are typically reserved for patients who suffer with different types of smile flaws. While this smile enhancement is incredibly effective in improving one’s appearance, it is not right for everyone. We recommend scheduling a consultation with our team to determine the best procedure(s) that meets your unique needs. At your appointment, we will discuss how you would like to see improvement in your appearance and explain how different procedures can help you achieve your goals.

We believe that patients should not have to suffer with an imperfect smile. To schedule an appointment with our compassionate and experienced team, call Balcones Family Dental at 512-200-7422 today.

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A Healthy Mouth is a Gateway to a Healthy Body

dentist north AustinDaily brushing and flossing coupled with a visit to the dentist every six months for a complete teeth cleaning, polishing, and dental exam to catch potential problems in their earliest stages are the best ways to protect your oral health. But did you know that lapses in dental care can impact your overall health as well?

Research continues to link the incidence of diseases of the mouth to immune disorders like diabetes and arthritis; in addition, the correlation between gum disease and those suffering from heart disease demands further study.

If you have an illness, all parts of your body may suffer. But the same can be said if you are experiencing problems associated with your teeth and/or gums.

A toothache can totally ruin your ability to function at work or play. And if you ignore that toothache or try to mask the discomfort with analgesics, the problem can escalate.

Dental decay or gum disease often starts due to an inefficient or missing daily hygiene regimen. Brushing twice daily with a fluoridated tooth paste is essential; flossing at least once per day will remove the food debris your tooth brush may have missed; visiting the dentist every six months for a proper cleaning will allow plaque built up since your last visit to be removed.

If you are not in compliance with these basic oral care functions you are running the risk of experiencing dental problems. These can include dental decay or gum disease. And that’s not even mentioning the problems associated with dental trauma that can lead to broken or lost teeth.

If you have lost teeth, you may experience remaining teeth shifting creating bite issues. Lost teeth may mean adjustments in your diet that could prevent consumption of nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables. A daily diet that lacks proper nutrition impacts the body’s overall health.

Other detrimental actions that can affect both your oral and overall health include tobacco use; illicit drug use; over consumption of alcohol; unhealthy snacks and beverages; lack of proper hydration; and insufficient rest.

Providing excellent care for your oral health may not prevent the onset of physical ailments, but patients that honor the needs to take the best care of their teeth as possible will likely enjoy the use of their own teeth for their lifetime.

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Invisalign: Clear, Removable, Comfortable

Invisalign north AustinEveryone wants a beautiful smile … and for many they can enjoy that smile thanks to great genetics. But for the many more that are not born with beautifully straight teeth, there are Invisalign clear aligners.

Having straight teeth is not just for aesthetics. Crooked or misshapen teeth provide many places for plaque to build that can lead to dental decay or gum disease. Daily brushing and flossing help to keep teeth healthy between visits to the dentist, but some areas too difficult to reach due to a dental malocclusion can become problematic.

With Invisalign, the patient enjoys many advantages over traditional teeth straightening methods:

Clear – The aligners are clear which makes treatment virtually undetectable. This is very important especially for teens and young professionals.

Removable – With most teeth straightening methods, the braces are permanently cemented into place throughout treatment. With Invisalign, the aligners are taken out to eat meals and snacks; brush and floss daily; and for dental office visits for teeth cleaning and needed treatment.

One huge advantage this provides is the patient can continue to eat all the foods they love including all the fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, and many healthy snacks that are difficult and often discouraged with other teeth straightening methods.

Comfortable – These aligners are sturdy enough to gently reshape your occlusion, but since there is no metal involved, there are no wires to poke soft oral tissue or bands to cause oral abrasions.

At your initial appointment, photographs, dental x-rays, and impressions will be taken. These tools will be sent to the Invisalign lab where technicians will employ 3-D digital technology to fabricate a series of aligners that the patient will update every few weeks as teeth progress to their correct placement.

Your dentist will outline the program to be followed, which includes the necessity to wear the aligners a minimum of twenty to twenty-two hours every day to achieve your teeth straightening goals in the time frame allowed.

Visits to the dentist periodically to make sure the process stays on track does not eliminate the need for hygiene appointments every six months.

Upon treatment completion a retainer will be worn to help teeth develop a memory for their new location; this is a critical step in finalizing the process that will help you maintain your new, beautiful smile.

To find out if you are a candidate for Invisalign, contact Balcones Family Dental at 512-200-7422 today.

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Can Invisalign correct a misaligned bite?

Invisalign north AustinInvisalign is a convenient system for straightening the smile using clear, plastic trays instead of clunky metal brackets and wires to reposition the teeth. When this treatment method debuted, some patients were told that they could only take advantage of it if they had mild misalignments of the teeth without a malocclusion (“bad bite”). Now, the technology has improved, and Invisalign can help to correct a bad bite.

Overbites and underbites are common complaints from patients who want to improve their smiles, and your dentist can use Invisalign to resolve these issues in addition to re-aligning crooked teeth.

Even crossbites can respond to efforts to reposition them with Invisalign. In a jaw that is too small to accommodate all of the teeth, severe crowding can occur. This system may be able to improve the smiles of these patients as well. Ask for your dentist’s guidance on whether this treatment can help you achieve the specific outcomes you desire. 

Overbites and underbites are common complaints from patients who want to improve their smiles, and your dentist can use Invisalign to resolve these issues in addition to re-aligning crooked teeth.

The conditions listed above are caused by different factors. For example, an overbite can develop when a patient’s upper jaw grows too quickly. In contrast, the upper jaw may be underdeveloped in a patient with an underbite. Your dentist will consider the specifics of your case when deciding on your Invisalign treatment plan.

In addition to detracting from your smile’s appearance, these malocclusions can have negative implications for your oral health and your general health as well. An incorrectly aligned bite may not be as effective at chewing and may impact your nutrition as a result. Certain abnormal patterns of jaw growth may also be detrimental to your gum tissue by putting too much pressure on it.

Patients who choose Invisalign gain a number of benefits in comparison to traditional braces. They can be removed at meal time and for the patient’s oral hygiene routine, so patients can sustain their normal activities when it comes to eating, brushing and flossing.

If you have a “bad bite,” contact Balcones Family Dental at 512-200-7422 to schedule an Invisalign consultation. This treatment system may be able to help you achieve your desired smile.

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Oral Piercings: Hidden Risks to Your Health

dentist 78729Many people get oral piercings because they look cool or trendy, but these patients may fail to consider the dental health risks that such piercings present. When deciding on a tongue or lip piercing, it’s important to weigh these factors as you make your choice.

Here is a list of a few dental hazards that you may face as a result of an oral piercing.

  • Infection – Any piercing introduces an outlet for bacteria to enter the body, and an oral piercing is no exception. Oral infections can be devastating to your oral health and have the potential to spread throughout the body if they are able to access the bloodstream.
  • Damage to the teeth – If a stud or hoop contacts the teeth, those teeth can easily be chipped or cracked. This could create the need for a restoration or possible introduce the risk of infection in the tooth’s inner core.
  • Gum disease – Patients with oral piercings seem to face a greater risk of gum disease, which can ultimately lead to tooth or bone loss.
  • Disease transmission – Oral piercings can increase a patient’s risk for acquiring diseases like hepatitis and herpes.
  • Difficulty chewing – An oral piercing may interfere with your ability to chew properly, potentially compromising your nutrition.
  • Allergic reactions – Some patients will have an allergic reaction to the metal in the piercing. This risk can be serious if the tongue swells as a result, as a swollen tongue can obstruct the airway opening in severe cases.

This list is not intended to be a comprehensive one. Your dentist can advise you of additional concerns, including ones that are specific to your case.

If you do decide to move forward with getting an oral piercing despite the possible health risks, it’s essential that you take good care of it and do your best to keep it clean and free of the oral bacteria that can wreak havoc on the rest of your mouth. Your dentist can advise you on this matter as well.

Before deciding to pierce your tongue or lip, get your dentist’s advice on this process. If you are thinking about such a piercing, we strongly encourage you to contact our office to speak with our experienced team of professionals about this issue.

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I’m Postponing Dental Treatment Because It’s Not Bothering Me

north Austin dentistWe all exist in a stress-filled, action-packed, and not-enough-hours-in-the-day world. But postponing the inevitable can often exacerbate the condition making it much worse than if you had dealt with it immediately upon discovery. If your dentist diagnoses a problem, do not delay dental treatment just because it is not bothering you right now.

A dental cavity is literally a hole in the enamel of your tooth. You may not yet feel the effect, but as bacteria builds, the hole becomes bigger and the tooth decay builds. Your dentist has the tools to identify this condition at its earliest stage … take advantage of treatment right away to eliminate problems later.

Postponing having a cavity treated can lead to the need for intervention to save your tooth eventually. Decay can lead to infection which can advance to an abscess. That little cavity could have been filled in minutes, but the delay has led to the need for a root canal and a crown to salvage the tooth. The end result is costly and time consuming treatment that could have been prevented.

You’ve noticed your gums are starting to bleed, but you aren’t having any discomfort. You brush your teeth every day and floss every once in a while. You may have skipped a couple of dental visits, but since your teeth feel good, you’re not concerned.

You may be experiencing the early onset of gum disease known as gingivitis. Without treatment symptoms grow including red, swollen gums; chronic bad breath; receding gum tissue; and the possibility of losing one or more teeth.

Both dental decay and gum disease are very preventable conditions. But they require daily attention and keeping consistent dental visits. Daily attention includes brushing with a fluoridated tooth paste or gel at least twice each day.

Flossing daily is critical. This removes food particles from between teeth that your tooth brush can’t reach. In addition, gum tissue is stimulated which aids in keeping your gums healthy.

Finally, your dentist can play a huge role in your dental health. Your teeth will be cleaned removing plaque that has built up since your previous visit; teeth will be polished; a complete dental exam will reveal issues that should be addressed; and you will receive the advice needed to maintain excellent dental health for life.

Contact Balcones Family Dental at 512-200-7422 to schedule your next visit.

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The First Signs of Gingivitis

dentist 78729Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease, and is often the result of minimal or absent daily hygiene care and missed visits with the dentist for a complete cleaning and dental exam. Some of the indicators you should watch for include:

Bleeding gums – Gums may bleed if your brush vigorously or use a hard bristle tooth brush. The answer is to lighten up – scrubbing teeth too hard may be doing more harm than good. A soft bristle tooth brush is recommended … an electronic tooth brush is a solution as no pressure is needed. All you have to do is guide the brush, and let it do the work.

If gums are bleeding without provocation, you may be dealing with gum disease. Healthy gums do not bleed.

Gum appearance – Healthy gum tissue is pink … gums that are red and swollen may be infected.

Chronic bad breath – Strong foods and beverages can give you bad breath, but if halitosis is on-going you are probably dealing with some type of infection. Sinus and throat illness can produce a sour odor, but if you believe your teeth are the source of your bad breath, a visit to the dentist is needed.

If gum tissue has started to recede or teeth feel loose, you are no longer in the gingivitis stage of gum disease. You are now dealing with the more advanced condition, periodontitis. The bacteria that has been left on your teeth from a lack of brushing, flossing, and dental visits has now grown below the gum tissue and is destroying the bone structure that is holding your teeth in place.

Gum disease can impact one tooth or one area … the entire mouth does not have to be involved to require treatment. And even the most diligent can be faced with gingivitis. This is why early childhood care is so important. Many adults dealing with gum disease can point to a lack of or improper care growing up; this is more evident if parents and siblings also deal with gum disease.

You can break that cycle. Daily flossing is possibly the most important contributor to maintaining healthy gum tissue. Brushing with a fluoridated tooth paste at least twice each day coupled with consistent visits to the dentist for a thorough cleaning and dental exam will result in healthy teeth and gums.

Contact our team at Balcones Family Dental today to schedule your next professional exam.

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Porcelain Veneers Create Stunning Smiles

veneers North AustinIf a noticeable flaw, such as a chip, crack or stain, is a drag on your smile’s appearance, consider porcelain veneers as a convenient, affordable way to upgrade your pearly whites.

Porcelain veneers are tremendously versatile. In addition to concealing the imperfections listed above, veneers can help make an undersized tooth look more proportional in relation to its neighbors or create the illusion of proper alignment in a stretch of crooked teeth.

This valuable cosmetic dentistry intervention can help the patient attain the desired outcomes in a relatively short period of time, generally within a few weeks.

The treatment process of veneers will take place over at least two appointments. At the first visit, the dentist will take impressions and gather other information from the patient to determine the veneers’ design. Depending on the thickness of the veneers, the teeth may also be prepped for veneer placement at that appointment. A thin layer of enamel is removed from the tooth to make room for the veneer. 

This valuable cosmetic dentistry intervention can help the patient attain the desired outcomes in a relatively short period of time, generally within a few weeks.

While awaiting the permanent veneers, patients can wear temporary veneers to maintain the smile’s appearance in the interim.

When the veneers are ready, the patient will return to the dental office to have them placed. Any last-minute changes to the shape or shade of the veneer desired by the patient can be made prior to placement. After the veneers are bonded to the teeth, they cannot be altered.

If any decay or gum disease is present, your dentist may want to treat that condition prior to placing veneers. Ask if there are any specific considerations in your case that could create a delay in the treatment timeline.

You should also work with the cosmetic dentistry specialist to plan for the ongoing care of your veneers. While porcelain is considered a fragile material, it is quite strong when bonded to the tooth. With proper maintenance, porcelain veneers can last up to a decade.

Porcelain veneers can help you dramatically improve your smile. Ask a member of our experienced staff if veneers might be beneficial in your case. Call Balcones Family Dental at 512-200-7422 today to schedule your visit.

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How will Invisalign affect my life?

Invisalign Round RockWhen considering orthodontic treatment, patients will often weigh any inconveniences associated with the treatment and the overall effects that braces will have on their day-to-day lives. Fortunately, patients who choose Invisalign will experience minimal, if any, disruption to their daily routines.

Invisalign uses clear plastic trays to reposition the teeth rather than brackets and wires. Although patients should wear the trays for 20-22 hours per day to get the best results within the desired timeline, the trays can be removed at meal time and in the morning and evening to allow you to perform your oral hygiene routine.

Therefore, patients who choose this method will be able to continue to enjoy their favorite foods. Of course, sweet treats should still be limited in order to reduce your risk of tooth decay. Additionally, you won’t need to use any special tools or techniques beyond proper brushing and flossing to keep your teeth clean.

Another benefit of this system is that your smile is not obscured by metal appliances during treatment. Even “clear” brackets still require wires and cover up your teeth, but with Invisalign, you can enjoy the results as they develop.

To gain all of the advantages of Invisalign, patients do need to take on more responsibility for the treatment, however. With the dentist’s oversight, patients play a more active role with this system.

Patients will receive a number of Invisalign trays that must be changed periodically to keep the teeth moving in the desired direction. Patients need to adhere to the timeline provided by their dentist for changing the trays.

However, because the patient is essentially making the necessary adjustments, there are fewer visits to the dentist’s office with Invisalign. There’s no need to schedule appointments every few weeks to have wires changed or other appliances tweaked or modified. Most Invisalign patients will complete treatment within about 18 months, which is shorter than the period needed for traditional orthodontics.

Invisalign is unlikely to create the need for any significant changes in your life. Just be sure to wear the trays for the recommended amount of time each day and switch to a new tray according to the schedule provided by your dentist. Feel free to ask a member of our staff if you have any specific concerns about this treatment.

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